There is nothing truly remarkable about the design on the shirt (pictured above). For all intents and purposes, it is otherwise run-of-the-mill. The partial quote emblazoned in capital letters on is a recognizable one from Return of the Jedi: “I AM A JEDI LIKE MY FATHER.” Within the words, a LEGO version of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker from stands in a ready position with his green lightsaber ignited. Determination emblazoned on his face, this LEGO Luke is prepared to enter battle.
While I am conditioned by my life-long love of the franchise to notice Star Wars merchandise online and in-stores, I rarely linger on the products I find. On the one hand, I have more than enough Star Wars stuff, and on the other, many Star Wars products are pretty banal. Unless something really unique catches my eye, or I have a vested interest in a product, I typically “move along” rather quickly.
Yet, this t-shirt design, while not something I would buy for myself, never-the-less caught my attention. In fact, when I saw it, I found myself pondering what I was seeing. And the reason for this reaction was because in that moment I was looking at an image which fundamentally misrepresents Luke Skywalker when he states this quote in Return of the Jedi.
In my piece Luke Skywalker: A Farewell to Arms I dive into the moment Luke Skywalker delivers the quote, the moment he truly becomes a Jedi in Return of the Jedi. As Emperor Palpatine goads Luke to destroy and replace Darth Vader, the young man has a moment of clarity. The anger which propelled Luke to violence and saw him teetering on the precipice of the Dark Side is washed away by an awareness which comes to him before he delivers the killing blow. Recognizing how close to darkness he has come, he turns toward Palpatine, he throws his lightsaber away. It is only then, after this action, when he declares “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
The t-shirt design presents a far different accounting of this critical moment. While keeping part of the quote which signifies his elevation to Jedi Knight – I AM A JEDI LIKE MY FATHER – it instead couples Luke’s declaration with an image of Luke that does not fit the scene in Return of the Jedi. Notably, the design is actually closer to an image of Luke from earlier in the film when he is battling Jabba the Hutt’s gang on the sail barge. Were the quote left out of the design, and we were just given the image of a LEGO Luke that mirrors Luke’s sail barge stance, none of this would really matter. Never-the-less, the image of Luke within the quote serves as a reminder that Star Wars creators and fans alike are often willing and eager to undercut one of the most radically subversive moments in the Star Wars narrative.
Admittedly, this is hardly surprising. Star Wars in general and the Jedi in particular have, overtime, succumbed to the flashy excitement of lightsabers. It is how Jedi are understood, how they are defined, how they are recognized. A symptom, at least in part, of the choreographed lightsaber battles of the Prequel Trilogy that added more gravitas and intrigue through balletic acrobatics, the snap-hiss ignition and hypnotic twirling of blue and green blades has come to be the defining feature of the Jedi Order. The franchise consistently telegraphs that being a Jedi is having a lightsaber ignited and at the ready. It is hardly shocking, then, that a shirt design depicting Luke Skywalker, even a LEGO version, would show him with his green lightsaber at the ready and superimposed within his iconic statement declaring his status as a Jedi.
But while this may not be surprising or shocking, it is nonetheless disappointing because it forces me to wonder if some of the most profound lessons in Star Wars are being lost. Star Wars has rightly been described as a form of modern-day myth, and as such, myth always has something to say, something to teach. In Return of the Jedi, the Jedi “return” precisely because Luke recognizes his capacity to fall into darkness and stops himself from doing so. Turning off his lightsaber and tossing it aside is not just a rejection of that darkness, it is a rejection of violence more broadly. Luke heroically displays that we, too, can reject violence through similar actions in our own lives.
Of course, to some fans, the act of disarming himself may seem foolish as he turns and faces down a powerful Sith Lord. Wishing he would have fought the Emperor and/or deriding Luke for being defenseless misses the point, though. Luke chooses the path of non-violence, willing to face his adversary, the Emperor, without his lightsaber because Luke recognizes and offers a lessons that is exceedingly important, one that the Star Wars franchise seems to have forgotten over time: the “elegant weapon of a Jedi Knight,” the lightsaber, is irrelevant to being a Jedi. It is NOT what makes him a Jedi; it is not what makes anyone a Jedi. Rather, Luke can declare “I am a Jedi” because he possesses something far greater than a saber of light. He possesses the Light Side of the Force. Choosing to face his enemy with only the Force as his ally offers the clearest sign that the Jedi have returned. But don’t just take my word for it, take the Emperor’s. He is the one who has the final say on the matter in the moment, and I will likewise give him the final word here.
“I am a Jedi, like my father before me,” Luke declares, standing with poise after tossing aside his lightsaber. And to this, the Emperor responds with a contemptuous affirmation: “So be it, Jedi.”
Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. I shared my thoughts on The 10 Sexiest Males in Star Wars in my previous post and it seems only appropriate to present the females I behold as the sexiest in Star Wars as well. I hope you enjoy the list and do leave a comment if you feel so inclined to join the conversation.
10. The Pa’lowick Sy Snootles. This singer exudes sexy in her voice and her movements. How could anyone resist her? Ziro the Hutt certainly couldn’t. Neither can I.
9. The Geonosian Queen Karina the Great. This powerful hottie is surrounded by Geonosian males who do nothing but serve her every need. How lucky are they!?!?!
8. The Gossam Shu Mai, Presidente of the Commerce Guild. You know what’s sexy? Money! And Shu Mai has loads of it.
7. The Tauntaun Luke is riding in The Empire Strikes Back. “Steady girl. Hey, what’s the matter? You smell something,” Luke asks his mount. Yeah, she does smell something, my insatiable desire for her.
6. The Yam’rii Kitik Keed’kak. It was attraction at first sight when I saw this giant, skirt wearing praying mantis in the Mos Eisley Cantina.
5. The Dowutin Ninth Sister, an Imperial Inquisitor. Musicians are sexy. Power is sexy. Money is sexy. And you know what else is sexy? Having a sensitive side where you are good at reading emotions. I just think the Ninth Sister would really get me. Also, she is hot.
4. The Sarlacc. I have a secret desire to be subjected to pain and suffering so how could I resist letting this beautiful girl digest me for 1,000 years?
3. The Thala-siren Luke milks in The Last Jedi. The Greek hero Odysseus had to tie himself to the mast of his ship to resist the sirens on his Odyssey and me thinks he would have to do the same for this sexy siren. She is irresistible.
2. The planet Zonoma Sekot. No offense to Mother Earth but this Rogue Planet just does it for me. I know the Yuuzhan Vong would agree with me. I bet Rick Sanchez would too.
1. The Millennium Falcon. Han tells Luke that, “she may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts…” Damn right she does.
I recently came across two Star Wars…articles?…on cbr.com that left me genuinely dumbfounded. One is titled “10 Characters Obi-Wan Never Interacts With” and the other is “10 Characters Darth Vader Never Interacts With.” As the titles both imply, each goes on to list a variety of characters in Star Wars whom Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, respectively, never encounter. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not entirely opposed to pointing the obvious at times, particularly when presented in relation to a genuine question such as “did Obi-Wan Kenobi interact with Watto in The Phantom Menace?” Given the relative proximity to one another in the same film, both being in/around Mos Espa at the same time, it is a worthwhile question that one may ask and that can easily be answered with a resolute “No” followed by a short description. That in and of itself is fine, I have no problem with that.
What is NOT worthwhile and is, in fact, a complete and utter waste of everyone’s time is a list of random Star Wars characters from across the spectrum of films that one can easily say “never interacted” with literally any character an author chooses. In the list of “10 Characters Darth Vader Never Interacts With” the author…no, sorry, the “lister”…states that another character who “didn’t get a chance to met [their typo, not mine] Darth Vader is Qi’ra from Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Well, yeah, of course they didn’t “met” because Darth Vader isn’t even in the damn film and it is the ONLY film Qi’ra appears in. So why even put Qi’ra in the list!?!?!
Maybe if the lists were more focused, more directed towards a single Star Wars film that considered the major/minor characters Obi-Wan or Vader, respectively, never cross paths with, maybe that could be worthwhile. Perhaps then such a list could then be beneficial, at least adding something semi-interesting to a conversation about Star Wars. But that is not what these lists are for. No, the randomness of the lists belie their true purpose: both are just mundane filler with “Star Wars” in the title for another run-of-the-mill comic book site.
And so, to highlight how utterly pointless such drivel is I happily and annoyingly present to you “10 Characters Dathcha Never Interacts With.” Feel free to skip the list and go do something else. Like, literally anything else. You do not have to keep reading because nothing I present below will be worth your time. That is, unless, you are a fan of really bad jokes.
10/10 Dathcha Never Interacts with Director Orson Krennic
Why the hell would they interact? Dathcha is the Jawa who shoots R2-D2 on Tatooine in A New Hope while Orson Krennic is the Imperial Director of Advanced Weapons Research in Rogue One.
9/10 Wat Tambor and Dathcha Don’t Met One Another
Of course they don’t met! Dathcha is a Jawa in A New Hope and Wat Tambor he is the Skakoan leader of the Techno Union who signs Count Dooku’s treaty in Attack of the Clones. Wait, did the Jawas also sign the treaty? I’ll be back, I need to go suffer through the bad CGI and bland dialogue in Attack of the Clones to find out if Dathcha was one of the original Separatist leaders.
8/10 We never see Dathcha with Princess Leia
Now, let’s be clear…and this is REALLY important… both ARE in A New Hope. But no, they never cross paths, probably because Leia never actually goes Tatooine in the film. She just sends R2-D2 instead.
But hey, I guess that is something, right!?! Like, wow, Character A (Leia) interacts with Character B (R2-D2) who then interacts with Character C (Dathcha). That is wild! So Character A never meets Character C, but they have a connection through Character B!!!! Does that ever happen in other stories?
7/10 Dathcha and General Hux Don’t Have Team-Up to Solve Crimes
I was hoping to find a connection here but to no avail. This is probably because Dathcha is a Jawa in A New Hope and General Hux is a First Order officer who appears in the Sequel Trilogy. But I do think it is worth Lucasfilm giving these two a series on Disney+ where they team-up and solve crimes. It could be called “Jawa and First Order.” Give it a second and you’ll get the joke. Or not. Whatever.
6/10 Ahsoka Tano and Dathcha Haven’t Interacted…
…although, I have to be honest, they may have at this point. I don’t really know because I can’t keep track of Ahsoka Tano anymore. She seems to be everywhere in Star Wars all at once so at this point she and Dathcha could be best friends.
5/10 Dathcha and Darth Sidious Never Discuss the Dark Side of the Force
This one is just so obvious I’m not even gonna write anything else. Moving on…
4/10 Millard Fillmore and DathchaNever Interact
Last I knew, the 13th President of the United States was not in A New Hope. Then again, maybe he was thrown into the film in one of the special editions of the Original Trilogy. I will have to go back and look more closely because maybe, just maybe, President Fillmore and Dathcha do interact and I have missed it. I will update this if I find anything…
3/10 Dathcha Doesn’t Fly with Gold Leader in the Battle of Yavin
Unfortunately, our brown robed Jawa friend never has the privilege of joining Jon Vander, aka Gold Leader, in the final battle of A New Hope. But it is a neat thought, right? Like, what IF Dathcha somehow survived the faux Tusken slaughter, stowed away on the Millennium Falcon, made his way to Yavin and jumped in the Y-Wing with Gold Leader!?! That would have made for an amazing and completely unnecessary Star Wars twist!
Actually, come to think of it, that might already be one of the short stories in “From a Certain Point of View.” I wouldn’t know, though, because I never read the anthology.
2/10 Datcha Didn’t Participate in the Immaculate Reception
Dathcha was not playing for either the Oakland Raiders or Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoffs. So there was really no way for him to be part of one of the greatest plays in American Football history. Although I wonder if George Lucas was watching and the play inspired him to create the Jawas! Now that is a really REALLY dumb thought but I am gonna hold out hope that it might be true.
1/10 Finally, Dathcha never interacts with Obi-Wan Kenobi OR Darth Vader…
…OR DOES HE!?!?!?!
No, no he doesn’t.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! If you made it this far I hope you enjoyed what you read and do be sure to check back in for my next post: 10 Star Wars Characters the Rancor Never Eats
There are times when one comes across a book that is so good that you simply refuse to put it down or stop thinking about it. Sometimes such a book is a Star Wars book, hijacking your imagination and transporting you to the galaxy far, far away. I can say, without a doubt, that Star Wars: Force Collector by author Kevin Shinick is unequivocally NOT one of those books. Don’t get me wrong, Force Collector does take place in the Star Wars galaxy, with familiar places, species, and concepts popping up over and over again. Yet, the novel is otherwise dull and one-dimensional, constantly falling back on a bland formula while simultaneously adding nothing of substance to the Star Wars canon. On the other hand, Force Collector goes out of its way to undermine one of the most important episodes in The Clone Wars with baffling nonchalance. Allow me to explain.
The plot of Force Collector is rather straight-forward: it is about a teenager who wants to learn about the Jedi Order and better understand his own Force abilities. Set prior to the events of The Force Awakens, the teen in question is Karr Nuq Sin who has the gift of psychometry, the Force ability to gain information in the form of sights, sounds, and emotions by touching objects. This is the same power which Jedi Quinlan Vos (The Clone Wars) and Cal Kestis (Jedi: Fallen Order) both harbor, although the stark difference for Karr is that his psychometry ONLY manifests when he touches an object that is associated with the Jedi in some way, shape, or form. This important fact about Karr’s psychometric power, established right out of the gate when Karr buys/wears the helmet of a stormtrooper who once had his mind manipulated by a Jedi, is also a fact that is entirely contrived to drive the plot of the book. Psychometry is a worthy concept for exploration, and that Karr spends a great deal of the story growing to control and accept the intensity of this power makes sense. Yet, the notion that psychometry would awaken in one while simultaneously being limited to Jedi-objects only is absurd. “That’s not how the Force works,” as Han Solo would say.
Then again, without any type of Star Wars group overseeing the possibilities and limitations on Star Wars concepts like psychometry, I suppose the Force can work in whatever way an author/writer might need for the sake of a plot. More and more this seems to be the case in Star Wars, with the Force serving as a convenient plot device to account for the most unlikely of eventualities (such as the time travel in Rebels which ensured Ahsoka Tano would survive her duel with Darth Vader). That Karr can only experience visions associated with Jedi objects is pretty convenient for a book in which the main character wants to become a Jedi and needs to learn more about the Jedi Order. Just give the protagonist a Force ability that is directly tied to this desire and, shazam, you have the magical ability to insert all manner of Jedi-specific objects with Jedi-specific information just waiting to be unlocked and collected.
Unfortunately for Karr, though, he is stuck on the planet Merokia and cannot head off-world to discover the secrets of the long forgotten Jedi. That is, he can not do this until he meets Maize, the new girl in school who is willing to steal her father’s company-provided yacht (the Avadora) to whisk Karr on a galactic scavenger hunt. Who does her dad work for you ask? Oh, just the First Order. But you know, the First Order is pretty chill about one of their ships being stolen because it is clearly the type of organization that just lets things slide.
First Stop: Utapau
So, the grand adventure begins. Karr and Maize, along with Karr’s droid RZ-7, decide their first stop will be Utapau because it was the location of one of the final battles of the Clone Wars. Fair enough, you have to start somewhere and Utapau is as good a place as any. Once there, Karr and company will come upon a junk dealer (the son of a clone trooper) who conveniently owns the staff of Tion Medon, the Pau’an port administrator who meets Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith. Karr touches the staff, a flashback to that scene in Episode III ensues, with additional details we don’t see in the film, and Karr has some new information about the Jedi to mull over.
Naturally, there is no better place to mull things over than in a diner. Discussing aspects of the vision with Maize, Karr name drops “Skywalker” – Anakin, mind you, has absolutely no role in Kenobi’s interaction with Medon in Revenge of the Sith, but is added to the vision so the Skywalker name can be mentioned in the diner – and another patron perks upon hearing this name. In turn, the patron points Karr, Maize and RZ-7 to the planet Jakku because, rumor has it, at the Battle of Jakku the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker pulled Imperial ships out of the sky using the Force.
What are the chances that Karr would be on just the right planet, in just the right location, at just the right time, to gather a clue about the next stop on his journey? I mean, those chances would have to be astronomical, so it is reassuring to know that this only happens one time in the book. Except, this happens every time he travels to another world, with a standard formula of convenience really stretching the imagination. Over and over, the ability to suspend one’s disbelief is tested in Force Collector, with Karr arriving at the perfect locations and times for things to fall into place for his journey of Jedi discovery.
Arriving in Niima Outpost on the planet Jakku, the group sets out to find more Jedi junk. First, they meet Unkar Platt, the blobfish from The Force Awakens buying salvaged wreckage for food portions. When Platt’s collection ends up being a bust, Karr and company decide to poke around the Outpost. What do they come across? Well, a run-down and grimy Corellian freighter of course! I won’t provide the name, as it isn’t revealed in the novel, but you already know the name...
Boarding the freighter the teens and droid end up finding a curious looking orb, “gray, dotted with silver circles.” Touching the orb, Karr has another vision, this time experiencing a scene from A New Hope. Or rather, the scene is entirely made up, details being filled in prior and up-to the moment when Obi-Wan Kenobi senses the death of millions which is where the vision ends. That details are added is not a problem in and of itself, but what his vision leaves out, which Karr desperately needs on his quest to become a Jedi, is the actual lesson which Luke Skywalker learns in this scene in A New Hope. Instead, the added “backstory” to the scene is meant to do one thing: simultaneously name drop Skywalker and Kenobi, making Karr question how his scattered visions line-up.
Fortified with this new vision, Karr and his pals exit the freighter and run into two First Order stormtroopers. Yikes! Sent by Maize’s father to take her back to Merokia, the stormtroopers leave Karr and RZ-7 alone on Jakku but do not reclaim the Avadora. But they DO let Karr and Maize have a moment to say their goodbyes because First Order stormtroopers are pretty chill.
Remaining on Jakku, Karr goes about searching for more Jedi clues and eventually comes across a Pyke who has information for him about “the crashed ship of a Jedi Master” that went down a long time ago on the desert moon orbiting Oba Diah, the Pyke homeworld. The Pyke also tells Karr that Oba Diah and it’s moon harbor many criminal outposts, warning the teen that if he travels there he may never leave.
From Jakku to Oba Diah
Landing in a canyon on Oba Diah’s desert moon, Karr and RZ-7 head west, towards evidence of a crash which the droid detected. After poking around for an hour, Karr comes across a “drag mark etched into the stone.” Being the “only sign of disruption on this whole eroded planet” – a completely ridiculous and naïve assessment – the two follow the mark and come across the wreckage of a ship!
Is this wreckage the crashed ship of a Jedi Master, a crash that took place a long time ago? Come on, you already know the answer is yes. More importantly, Karr finds a piece of debris with the serial number 775519, and also notes that “a ship crashed here, and somebody took the wreckage away, but they didn’t get everything…” And what, besides the debris, was left? Answer: a storage locker containing a recording of the Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas in the final moments of his life.
Okay, let’s pause for a moment. If you have not figured it out yet, the crashed ship of a Jedi Master which Karr finds himself exploring comes from “The Lost Ones,” a Season 6 episode of The Clone Wars. At the outset of the episode we find Jedi Master Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion on a desert moon searching for the wreckage of a ship that had been in the possession of a Jedi Master killed long ago. When they find it, Plo Koon enters while a clone in the background states, “the scans check out, it’s a T-6 shuttle alright. Serial number 775519.” Finding a lightsaber buried in the sand, Plo Koon immediately turns and says, “I want the entire area cleared. We’re taking everything back to Coruscant.”
“Everything?” a clone inquires.
“Everything,” Plo Koon exclaims.
Did you catch that? Plo Koon wanted the entire area cleared so they could take everything, EVERYTHING, back to Coruscant. Except now, with Karr and RZ-7 searching the exact same crash site, we discover that Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion “didn’t get everything.” Up to this point in the book, I had found myself rolling my eyes at the series of impossibly convenient events playing out. I was at least willing to continue reading, to overlook some of these unlikely moments and just move on. It wasn’t about accepting the way things were unfolding so much as it was to say “okay, whatever, let’s just head to the next stop on the journey.” Yet, when Karr finds the crashed ship of Sifo-Dyas and says that whoever excavated the site “didn’t get everything” I became annoyed, really, really annoyed.
In my opinion “The Lost Ones” is easily one of the best episodes of The Clone Wars and one of the most important. With the discovery of the crash on Oba Diah’s desert moon, the Jedi Order set out to discover the fate of their long-lost friend Sifo-Dyas, attempting to piece together his fate. In doing so, they are led on a journey which takes them to a point they were neither expecting or fully prepared handle: the Clone Wars was secretly orchestrated by the Sith. This revelation is a gut-punch to the Jedi, the Council recognizing that they have been playing by their enemies rules this whole time, and they must continue to play along until they can uncover the deeper layers to this Sith plot.
The opening of the show sets the stage for this stark revelation. With the initial explanation and voiceover, we learn that the Jedi have stumbled upon a clue to an enduring mystery and have dispatched Plo Koon and his clones to investigate. The set up explained, we are then transported to the moon, a raging sandstorm concealing the view of the clone troopers and vehicles scouring the landscape. The sandstorm is an appropriate metaphor, a symbol for the turbulent mystery obscuring the Jedi from discovering a harsh truth. Added to this is the ominous music which captures the foreboding discovery and exploration of the wreckage. This may be the crash they were seeking for more than ten years but the music presents a heavy tone and stark warning: what they have found is also a harbinger of a deeper and darker web which has ensnared the Jedi Order.
“The Lost Ones” is meticulous in peeling back the layers of mystery only to unveil even more nefarious truths lingering below the surface, truths which the Jedi are aware of but can not fully grasp. Force Collector is anything but meticulous, offering nothing more convenient plot so Karr not only discovers the crash site of Sifo-Dyas’ vessel but also wreckage which, as noted, Plo Koon and his soldiers failed to salvage from the site.
For Master Koon to demand “everything” be found, only for fans to later learn that “everything” was not found is ridiculous, a canonical bait-and-switch which makes Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion look inept and undercuts the profound importance of The Clone Wars episode. That even one piece of wreckage remained of Sify-Dyas ship – and a critical piece at that, an actual recording he made prior to his death – is flabbergasting. Nothing in “The Lost Ones” lends itself to this possibility. Absolutely nothing.
Frankly, although I have only presented half of Force Collector’s plot in this review up to this point, I genuinely have nothing left to say about the book. Don’t get me wrong, I did finish reading it, and I certainly have opinions about the remained of the story. Yet, the way Force Collector so willfully undermined “The Lost Ones” put such a foul taste in my mouth that I see no reason to elaborate on anything else. The moment Karr stated “they didn’t get everything” my opinion about the novel was made.
Ever since it was published in 2017 I had my sights set on Star Wars: On the Front Lines. I am a sucker for Star Wars reference books, having spent countless hours of my life immersing myself in the minutiae of the Star Wars universe found in these source books. But I did not buy On the Front Lines when it first came out, instead opting to wait to purchase it. Recently, though, the book was gifted to me and needing something new to read I decided to dig in. And, I am happy to report, On the Front Lines definitely did not disappoint.
Primarily detailing battles from The Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War, but also one from the Age of Resistance, On the Front Lines takes readers quite literally to the front lines of some of the most important engagements in Star Wars. While author Daniel Wallace limits the number of battles that are explored – a perfectly reasonable decision considering how many battles are in Star Wars – he never-the-less chose one battle to examine from every live-action and animated Star Wars story to date. In fact, the only notable exception is Star Wars: Rebels, with no engagement from that series being discussed. Here is a list of battles that the author examines:
The Battle of Naboo (The Phantom Menace) The Battle of Geonosis (Attack of the Clones) The Battle of Christophsis (The Clone Wars movie) The Battle of Ryloth (The Clone Wars animated show) The Battle of Coruscant (Revenge of the Sith) The Battle of Scarif (Rogue One) The Battle of Yavin (A New Hope) The Battle of Hoth (The Empire Strikes Back) The Battle of Endor (Return of the Jedi) The Battle of Jakku (Various Sources) The Battle of Starkiller Base (The Force Awakens)
That Wallace chooses well-known battles from the Star Wars saga, battles that we have actually seen in film and on television, makes it easy for both casual and die-hard fans to digest and enjoy this book. Interestingly though, the clash I found myself most interested in reading about was the Battle of Jakku. As you can see from the list above, this is the only engagement discussed in the On the Front Lines that has never been depicted on-screen. Putting his penmanship and imagination to work, Wallace pulls from multiple sources (novels such as Lost Stars and Aftermath: Empire’s End) to piece together details about this relatively unknown fight. In doing so, he presents a vivid picture of the final battle in the Galactic Civil War, a brutal slugfest between the New Republic and Imperial Remnant that leaves wreckage and bodies littering the sandy dunes of the remote world.
Want to know how all those derelict Star Destroyers ended up on the surface of Jakku? On the Front Lines provides some context.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
While I found myself intensely fascinated by Wallace’s presentation of the Battle of Jakku this does not mean I found the other battles any less interesting. Far from it! In every chapter, Wallace draws on the source material available – movies, television shows, books, comics, etc. – to craft a unique and fairly comprehensive picture of each engagement. Granted, there are points where Wallace does leave out information, or gives details only a cursory glance. For example, the space battle which takes place above Naboo in from The Phantom Menace is only briefly mentioned, with the focus instead being entirely on the ground battle between the Gungans and the Trade Federation’s Droid Army. As well, the space battle over Ryloth, depicted in The Clone Wars Season 1, Episode 19 (“Storm Over Ryloth”), where Ahsoka Tano uses a Marl Sabl maneuver to defeat the Separatist blockade, is entirely ignored. For some die-hard fans of Star Wars, these and other omissions may prove annoying but for this die-hard fan, I found myself enjoying what was in the book rather than brooding over what was not.
That being said, I can admit that I wish the book had even more in it. This is not a criticism, though. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that I really enjoyed the way each battle is presented, with a combination of big picture information, such as why the confrontation took place and how it unfolds, along with more focused detail on things like armor, weaponry, vehicles and tactics. Every chapter also offers little asides about individuals from each engagement, specific commanders from both sides, and a handful of soldiers and/or pilots who displayed incredible courage during the fight. And, to top it off, every chapter is loaded with captivating and wholly unique images courtesy of four superb illustrators (Adrián Rodriguez, Thomas Wievegg, Aaron Riley, and Fares Maese).
Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that On the Front Lines contains a lot of information that I never knew about, or had never even considered,, about each of these Star Wars battles. In closing, then, I thought I would pick just one bit of of insight that I learned from this book. And what comes to mind immediately is a detail about The Battle of Christophsis. Or rather, aftermath of Christophsis. As we see in The Clone Wars movie, towards the end of this fight, Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi tricks the Separatist General Whorm Loathsominto believing that the Jedi intends to conditionally surrender his clone forces. However, this is a ruse, done with the hope of giving Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano more time to deactivate the Separatist deflector shields. Kenobi succeeds in his plan, and actually captures Loathsom moments later, but as Wallace writes,
“General Kenobi’s false surrender at Christophsis was a boon to the Separatist-controlled media, who viewed the incident as clear evidence of the Republic’s duplicity. Almost no conditional surrenders were offered by either side for the remainder of the war” (pg. 31).
Kenobi may have been successful in that moment, but his “false surrender” was not without long-term consequence. As the Clone War intensified, it would be the clones themselves, the actual soldiers doing the fighting on the front lines, who would pay the price for Kenobi’s actions.
Standing on a cliff overlooking one of Savareen’s oceans, Han Solo aims a blaster at Tobias Beckett, his mentor-turned-adversary. It was Beckett who gave Solo the opportunity to flee the frontlines of the Imperial army and join his crew. As they worked together, traveling from Mimban and Vandor to Kessel and now Savareen, Beckett bestowed his vast knowledge of a scoundrel’s life on the young Corellian, offering insights into how to survive and thrive in the galaxy’s dark underworld. Now, on this sandy, wind-swept cliff the two square-off: Beckett attempting to flee with the coaxium the crew stole and Solo attempting to stop him.
Engaging in conversation, Solo explains to his “buddy” that he came as quickly as he could. Beckett in-turn goads the young man, explaining that Qi’ra, Solo’s childhood friend and romantic interest who joined them in stealing the coaxium, is a “survivor” and out to protect herself, not Han. To this, Solo tells Beckett that his problem is that he believes everyone is like him, but Beckett admits to Han that “you’re nothing like me.” It is at this point that Beckett slowly puts his finger on the trigger of the gun he holds in his hand. Distracting Han, Beckett emphatically states that “I hope you’re still paying attention because now I’m gonna tell you the most important…”
…a blaster shot echoes across the landscape and Beckett, in stunned silence, falls to the ground, a hole sizzled in his chest. Running over to him, Han grabs Tobias and holds him upright. Shocked and breathing hard, Beckett compliments Solo, admitting “…that was a smart move, kid, for once. I woulda killed ya.” Moments later, Tobias Beckett dies.
While Solo: A Star Wars Story was met with mixed reviews and a disappointing box office return, I will admit that I enjoyed the film even though I had some reservations before seeing it. Frankly, I did not believe that a Han Solo origin story was necessary, especially on the big screen, and I feared that offering too much about Solo’s past would dilute the iconic character whom Harrison Ford brought to life. Yet, after seeing the movie, I found myself impressed by a number of aspects of the film, especially those aspects which offered insight into the character we met in the Original Trilogy. This is not to say I agreed with every way Han Solo is depicted in the film, but it is to say that I appreciate many of the ways Solo: A Star Wars Story adds fascinating and obvious (and at times subtle) background to Han’s thoughts/actions in the original Star Wars films in general, and A New Hope in particular.
One such point in Solo: A Star Wars Story which does this is the scene I described above where Han Solo shooting Tobias Beckett on the Savareen cliff. That Han shot first, before Beckett could draw his own weapon, is absolutely brilliant, a clear indication that Solo really has been listening to Beckett’s advice throughout the course of the film. And tragically, for Tobias Beckett, it is his advice to Han – to always be on guard, to trust no one, to be a survivor, etc. – which turns out to be his downfall. Plus, to add to this tragic twist of fate for the scoundrel, it is the DL-44 blaster which Beckett assembled and gifted to Solo which the Corellian uses to kill his former mentor.
Alone, this scene does a fantastic job of showing that throughout the course of the movie, Han has grown considerably in his understanding of living a scoundrel’s life. He has internalized the wisdom Beckett offered, recognizing the need for constant vigilance and realizing that the decision to shoot first is the surest way to save his own skin in a dire situation. In this regard, what is equally brilliant about this scene is how it parallels and informs the infamous scene in A New Hope where the bounty hunter Greedo confronts Han Solo.
Han Shot First
The smuggler, Han Solo, whom we have just met for the first time moments before, attempts to leave the Mos Eisley Cantina but is immediately stopped by the Rodian bounty hunter and is forced, at gunpoint, to sit back down. Doing so, he and Greedo engage in a back-and-forth over Han’s debt to the gangster Jabba the Hutt, with the Rodian explaining that Jabba has “put a price on your head so large every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you…” Han, for his part, does his best to talk himself out of the predicament, even suggesting he already has the money owed to the Hutt. But this is really his attempt to stall for time and, as he and Greedo talk, he slowly removes the DL-44 blaster from his holster. Taunting the smuggler by saying Jabba may only take his ship, Han adamantly declares that Jabba will take the ship “over my dead body.” With this, Greedo admits that he has “been looking forward to this [killing Han] for a long time.”
“I bet you have,” Han replies and without hesitation shoots Greedo, the bounty hunter’s body slumping forward onto the table.
To me, it seems rather obvious that the standoff between Solo and Beckett in Solo: A Star Wars Story was crafted with the Cantina scene in mind. The parallels are clear, even if the context for both confrontations are different and Han Solo’s role in both situations are flipped. Consider the following:
Greedo confronts Han at gunpoint in the Cantina; Solo confronts Beckett at gunpoint on the cliff.
Greedo holds his blaster in his right hand; Solo holds his blaster in his right hand.
Han stalls for time, forcing Greedo to maintain eye-contact, while making a move for the holstered blaster on his right hip; Beckett stalls for time, forcing Solo to maintain eye-contact, while moving his finger onto the trigger of the blaster he holds by his right hip.
Han shoots first, killing Greedo; Solo shoots first, killing Beckett.
On the surface, the scene on the Savareen cliff is meant to mirror the Cantina scene. However, if we dig down a little, one recognizes that the standoff between Solo and Beckett can inform Han’s confrontation with Greedo. We can now read a new layer into the Cantina scene and assume that Han knows he has been in this type of situation before, albeit in reverse. Staring at Greedo across the table, Han must recognize that just as he shot and killed Beckett years before, Greedo will do the same unless he acts to save himself. And surely Han knows he has an advantage which his former mentor did not: his own blaster is out of view, below the table he and Greedo sit at. Beckett’s blaster, though, was out in the open, and Han could keep his eye on it even as he listened to Tobias. This was why Han shot first, killing the man before Beckett could act. Later, in the Cantina, Han does exactly the same, carefully drawing his DL-44, not allowing Greedo to notice his movements, taking aim and firing the first shot, ending the Rodian’s life.
Ultimately, it is this parallel, that Han shot first, which is what truly makes these scenes work in tandem. I am certainly aware, of course, that the Cantina scene has been changed over the years, with one edit having Greedo shot first and Han second, and more recently another showing Han and Greedo firing at the exact same time. Frankly, I just ignore these edits and dismiss them outright. The original version of the Cantina scene is all that matters to me, nay it is the only version that makes sense to me because it affirms that he is a man who is in control of his own destiny, a man who will always act first and foremost with his own interests and self-preservation in mind. And frankly, I am confident that the original version of the Cantina scene was all that mattered to the writer(s)/director of Solo: A Star Wars Story as well because, as he stood on the Savareen cliff, Han Solo was also in complete control and, when the moment for action arrived, it was Han, and not Beckett, who shot first.
Knowing that I am fanatical in my love of Star Wars, a friend recently asked me a pretty unsurprising question about A New Hope. The question was this:
“What’s the name of the other protocol droid following R2-D2 and C-3PO at the beginning of A New Hope?”
My friend then followed-up with a pretty obvious second question:
“What happened to U-3PO?”
Answer: Hell if I know.
Seriously, I have absolutely no idea. All I can tell you about the silver plated U-3PO beyond it’s name – which it officially received in the 1995 Star Wars Customizable Card Game – is that U-3PO follows the other two droids down a corridor in the Tantive IV before turning off into a different room. Then again, you could have figured that out yourself. What happened to U-3PO once it disappeared from view is a mystery. Admittedly, it is a mystery that has periodically popped into my mind. And if I had to take a guess, I would assume U-3PO was either “…sent to the spice mines of Kessel or smashed into who knows what!” Why? Well, honestly, if I have to explain it I’ll be taking the fun out of allowing you to figure it out for yourself (just re-watch the opening of A New Hope).
So the point is this: U-3PO is just the other protocol droid aboard the Tantive IV and has absolutely no bearing on the events of A New Hope. And yet, I will admit that I have always been intrigued that U-3PO is present in the film for those few brief seconds. It is certainly interesting to think about what happened to the protocol droid, and I hardly think some “canonical” answer is necessary. In this regard, the imagination is good enough for me.
But in closing, I will also say this: I find it equally interesting to imagine what role U-3PO could have played in the events of the film if it had stuck with R2-D2 and C-3PO. Who knows, maybe things would have been incredibly different if there had been three droids, and not two, wandering the barren wastelands of Tatooine.
Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:
Han Solo Returns! “Let’s blow this thing and go home.” Torpedoes away.
The Death Star destroyed. Luke and his friends celebrate. The Force is with him.
Good news! This post is Part 1 of 3 of a special three-week version of Haikuesday exploring Luke Skywalker in the Original Star Wars Trilogy. Be on the lookout next Tuesday for haiku about Luke in The Empire Strikes Back!